In February 2017, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration granted the Community Inclusivity Equity Council of York Region (CIECYR) a grant through their Building Inclusive Leadership Grant. The CIECYR council members proposed that by creating a comprehensive train-the-trainer program and equipping several leaders to provide equity-specific training to senior leaders across the province, these leaders would in fact take the necessary steps to address equity issues within their organization, re-develop equity policies and practices and transform service delivery for millions of Ontarians who access their services.
The process to achieve this goal was simple: select up to 26 individuals across Ontario who are well-versed in equity training and anti-oppressive practice who have the ability and leadership skills to deliver the training for senior leaders.
However, there are still numerous questions around the processes and sustainability of the project. The following list of questions have been generated through interviews with individuals and others interested in the program.
- Who is the CIECYR?
The Community Inclusivity Equity Council of York Region is a grassroots organization that explores, supports and enhances organizational practices of diversity, equity and inclusion. The council consists of human services organizations throughout York Region, and those who provide human services to individuals, families and/or communities of varying and diverse identities across York Region. The CIECYR planning table was formed in April 2010. Its objectives are: to support one another in enhancing the inclusiveness, quality, scope, relevance and accessibility of our services through such activities as:
- coordinating and sharing information regarding outreach and present service delivery within our diverse organizations;
- learning promising practices of diversity, equity and inclusion as they pertain to service delivery and community engagement, and applying what we learn;
- creating and maintaining an inventory of existing services;
- training and mentoring staff in their understanding, capacity, competence and ability to work within diverse communities; and
- sharing information and resources for common training and education (Taken from: www.ciecyr.ca).
What does the Project entail?
The CIECYR received funding from the Ministry to develop an inclusive leadership curriculum and to provide training to up to 26 Equity Leadership Facilitators. The Equity Leadership Facilitators will be supported by the council to deliver equity and inclusive working sessions to senior leaders in the social services field. The funding supports the curriculum development by the Equity Consultant, the Project Coordinator and the costs of training, i.e. program costs, meals, research and literature and miscellaneous.
Who is Blue Hills Child and Family Centre and why are they involved?
Blue Hills Child and Family Centre is a Children’s Mental Health organization which provides programs and services to families and children throughout York Region. Blue Hills has been a member of the CIECYR since its inception and has demonstrated leadership in equity leadership. Blue Hills is currently managing the funds of the grant and is managing the Project Coordinator.
How do you see the work rolling out?
Equity Leadership Facilitators will participate in a 12-day training program sponsored by the Ministry of Immigration and Citizenshi p to become course instructors. Agencies would sign senior leaders to participate in 3-day learning sessions with the CIECYR. The council will offer the facilitators opportunity to facilitate the sessions. Two facilitators will work together to facilitate the training. Agencies would complete an Organizational Readiness Assessment and Guide prior to completing the learning sessions. Agencies would cover the cost for their staff team members to attend the training. At the close of the training, agencies would then complete a follow up assessment and review to assess the changes which have occurred within their organization since the learning sessions.
What is the sustainability of the Building Inclusive Leadership Grant?
The CIECYR successfully applied and received the grant particularly due to their longstanding experience and history in the community. The CIECYR council will develop a Think Tank Institute, which is a web-based research and discussion forum for leaders of organizations and Equity Facilitators. This institute will help to coordinate information between the council, facilitators and leaders. This will initiate with the grant and would continue through funding from the CIECYR. In addition, the CIECYR hosts a Symposium bi-annually, which would also support the Equity Facilitators and continue to promote the project. Finally, organizations who participate in the senior leader sessions will have the opportunity to remain connected with the Council to ensure accountability and sustainability of equity initiatives within their organization.
Has the CIECYR completed this type of project before and what are some of their past projects?
No, this is the first time the CIECYR has received a grant of this size and have completed this type of project. However, the CIECYR has had tremendous success in delivering multiple projects in York Region.
What is the accountability for organizations to participate and follow through with their learning through the training?
Many human service organizations have been compelled to ensure they are meeting the needs of their service users and community through an equity-based and inclusive lens. Funders will hold human service organizations accountable through funding. This will create leverage for the Building Inclusive Leadership Project. The CIECYR is developing an accountability and evaluation structure for organizations who participate in the working sessions or trainings with Equity Facilitators. Each organization would complete an: Organizational Readiness Assessment (developed by the Equity Consultant for the Project), as well as an evaluation after the project to assess sustainability and accountability.
How does the CIECYR leverage to create equity change?
More and more, social service agencies are accountable to their funders to ensure their policies and practices are equitable and inclusive. They are seeking to fund agencies who have reputation of serving the broader needs of the community. The council hopes to utilize this need to create change. The council is connected with over twenty agencies in York Region, who are further connected with larger organizations and roundtables.
How will the CIECYR appeal to senior leaders?
In 2010, when the CIECYR planning table was developed the initiative was supported by senior leaders who believed in the importance of using an equity-based lens within their organizations, who understood that systemic barriers created inequities within their organization, and who may not have known how best to develop organizational change. This passion helped to develop the planning table to over 20 human service organizations within York Region. The same passion and determination will help to appeal to senior leaders across the province. We all recognize that the system, our systems need to change but we don’t always have the skills and capacities to develop the changes required. The senior leader working sessions will help support this training and capacity building for organizations.
How will you assess the readiness of the agency?
Tina Lopes, our Equity Consultant for the Project will develop an Organizational Readiness Guide and Assessment tool. This guide and tools will consist of a combination of research from around the world from experts in equity, anti-oppressive practice, anti-racism theory and similar research. The guide and tools will be presented to the council members and shared with Equity Facilitators during their 12-day training.
What are the required skillset for a Course Instructor?
Instructors are required to have strong leadership skills, experience as a facilitator or trainer, and have a strong up-to-date knowledge of equity based issues, anti-oppressive practice, whiteness and white fragility, and emotional intelligence skills. Instructors can be independent consultants or work for a human services organization. If they work for an organization, they are required to have permission from their organization to participate in the 12-day training program and facilitate 9 -days of sessions throughout the year.
How many course instructors are assigned to each session?
Each 3 day working sessions for senior leaders will be facilitated by two Course Instructors.
What parts of the province are you helping to reach?
The council is hoping to reach all parts of the province. This begins by generating course instructors from across the province.